An article in the Baltimore Sun reveals the human side of the massive backlog of Social Security disability cases that is stunning to even the most jaded reader. Almost 2,000 individuals who were attempting to get disability payments from the SSDI program were dismissed because the claimants died while waiting. The claims process takes years – and efforts to trim the backlogs have themselves been backlogged.
Adding to the misery – when group (ERISA) and private disability insurance claimants file for benefits, they are often surprised when the long term disability insurance company deducts the amount that they anticipate being awarded by Social Security Disability Insurance. Known as an “offset,” the deduction can make a bad financial situation even worse. Some claimants must face years of appeals and fights for their benefits before receiving these funds.
It should be noted that Frankel & Newfield does not represent cases before SSDI, but we do help our group (ERISA) or private disability insurance policy owners when they must figure out how the SSDI offset will affect their claim.
The frustration experienced by those fighting to get the benefits that they were expecting – both from SSDI and insurance – has led at least one Senator to comment that the SSA is on a precipice – this was before every deadline became a “cliff” in Washington. The lack of Congressional oversight may be just one part of the problem. The sheer number of applicants for benefits is another.
An investigation by a Senate Subcommittee in Fall 2012 revealed that administrative law judges struggling to maintain some control over the flood of appeals overturned agency decisions to award benefits despite insufficient or incomplete evidence in more than a quarter of 300 cases that were selected as samples. Hearings that last less than five minutes, judge’s notes reading “etc., etc., etc.” instead of carefully detailed examinations of medical histories, send a clear message that this is a case where sheer volume trumps careful analysis.
Despite reports by one administrator that improvements have been made, the slow pace of decisions continues to be a source of concern and challenges. A ballooning caseload is but one part of a very complicated problem.
At Frankel & Newfield, our first priority is protecting our clients and their families. We conduct a careful analysis of the benefit payments that their disability insurance policy is supposed to pay, calculate the impact of a Social Security offset, and help clients in their struggle to obtain their benefits.
If you are considering filing a claim for disability insurance benefits, don’t sign anything without the protection of an experienced and knowledgeable disability attorney. It doesn’t really matter which benefit source you are dealing with – the long term disability insurance company claims adjusters or the bureaucrats at Social Security – neither organization has your best interest in mind. This is one fight that you don’t want to face alone – and you don’t have to.
Call our office today to learn how the experienced attorneys at Frankel & Newfield can help you with your disability insurance claim.